It’s so hard not to compare to others in the industry boasting about significant earnings. It happens to me too.
I don’t seek to compare as ‘comparison is the thief of joy.’ That said, at least part of the day, our human instinct is on, and comparison can happen.
Is it Clickbait?
A catchy headline catches me in the scroll:
- ‘How I Made $20,000 in ONE MONTH!’.
- ‘How I make 11,000 per day with Facebook Ad Copy’.
- ‘How I made $152,000 in two months with affiliate marketing’.
Clickbait is any content whose primary purpose is to attract attention and get visitors to click on a link to a specific web page.]
I read an article yesterday that suggested every title should be as grandiose as possible. Without telling us to lie, the author suggested that we use the largest number available.
For example, rather than saying that I earn $5,000 per month, using a title like “How I Earned $60,000 Blogging’ might be better.
$5,000 per month multiplied by 12 months = $60,000. Let’s take that one step further. Let’s say that we’ve been blogging for five years, consistently earning $60,000 per year.
We could change our headline to read “How I Earned $300,000” blogging. The story is still valid. Some authors and YouTubers would never explain that it was over five years, however.
That would lead the consumer to create the story about how long it took that person to earn $300,000. They may assume that it is one month’s earnings or even one year.
And So Begins The Comparison
As a marketer myself, I enjoy finding proven models of success. While I don’t copy anyone directly, I seek inspiration, new ideas, and best practices from others in the same space.
After watching a video or reading an article, however, I can feel a bit deflated.
The questions in my mind pop up, such as:
- Why am I not earning that much?
- Am I not focused on the right activities?
- Did I choose the wrong niche?
- Do I lack the needed skills?
- Should I just quit now?
The doubt creeps in, and it can be momentarily paralyzing. Some people give up.
Feeling like they can’t measure up, they give up.
When in fact, if they dived into the numbers, they may find that they are exactly on track for success.
And in some cases, they may even be doing better than the creator with the catchy headline.
What’s The Truth?
A real estate colleague of mine once suggested that I always ask the question “What’s The Truth?” when listening to stories of success.
We were at a real estate convention and discussed the stories shared by panelists on the stage.
Some of them touting production numbers that I had a hard time even imagining.
I didn’t doubt that they did the production numbers, but I wondered what the profits were.
My friend had told me a story of when he was on the big stage, sharing his big numbers in production.
“What you didn’t know,” he said, “is that I also filed bankruptcy that year.”
I’m certainly not implying that all of these big earning producers are not profitable. I’m suggesting that every story has a story, and it’s essential to dig deep into the model before comparing or trying to reproduce it.
He Spent $150,0000 to Make $50,0000
The other day, I watched a video produced by a well-known, respected affiliate marketer. The headline certainly caused me to click play.
‘How I Made $152,000 in 2 Months with Affiliate Marketing’ was the title.
What I loved about this creator is that he shared in the opening that he spent $100,000 on ads to earn that $152,000.
Later, he went on to share his expenses and profitability.
This truthfulness led me to trust him and pay attention to the tutorial.
While other videos and articles quote “How Much I Made,” referring to sales income, affiliate income, publishing income, coaching, and courses, etc. and never disclose how much of that they kept.
A novice blogger may hear the “how much I made” number and assume their earnings.
Clickbait-type titles are what works today. Getting someone’s attention requires a little shock and awe.
It’s on us, the consumer, to read between the lines.
I believe people hear what they want to hear as well, which is part of the problem. I know firsthand that people seek validation for their own stories.
If they want to give up, they will find articles and videos that reinforce their story that they are a failure.
People will also find teachers, influencers, and creators that tell a story of success and only grab a sound bite and run with it rather than exploring the full model.
What’s the Truth?
Is it a Story or a Model?
Sometimes, I research articles and videos specifically to help decide if a model is viable.
For example, I earn 6-Figures annually with blogging, social media, and video strategies primarily.
I’m new to publishing and have honestly just begun a purpose application of affiliate marketing throughout my brands.
I laugh, though, because I say “6-figures”, and people hear seven. Maybe they are predicting that it will be!
7 Streams of Income
1. Affiliate Marketing
I influence buying decisions and earn a commission. I have partnerships with brands that issue a ‘special link’ to use in my blogs, videos, social posts, and webinars. When someone clicks that link and buys within a certain number of days, I earn a commission. My specialty is software.
Assumption: When I share stories on Youtube or in blogs about my earnings, people assume it’s mostly Amazon because of videos I have made about making money with Amazon.
Truth: I don’t do a lot with Amazon. Most of my earnings are in recurring software, which I say in every video.
2. Real Estate:
I was one of those agents that I mentioned early. I was paraded on stages, presented with awards, regularly interviewed about my success.
And I was pretty broke most of the time.
Interestingly, I always said when asked about my production, “That doesn’t mean profits.”
The truth was that I felt the traditional model was outdated. The profit and loss models didn’t lend to the lead generation expenses and strategies of today. The models only panned out with substantial production numbers.
Most people didn’t want to hear the Truth. They wanted to hear how I got to the production numbers I achieved or how I built a team so fast.
Today, I love my real estate model. I’m divorced now and was able to re-structure my team to fit my strengths. It’s more like an affiliate model today.
I have a much smaller team (4 of us rather than 15). For the most part, I generate leads, and they work with the clients.
I earn 30% of the commission, and my only costs or responsibilities are generating leads. (I’m the webmaster/blogger/social media manager).
This model is truly scalable. Of course, I’m creating multiple businesses and don’t pay as much attention as possible.
My new passion is publishing income. I’m in the test and measure the beginning phases of this income stream, currently growing 25% month over month with the lowest ad revenue (Adsense).
I’ve always been a publisher. I’ve been creating content since I was ten and ran the neighborhood newspaper with my sister.
Before the internet, we published print material in newspapers, newsletters, faxes, cards, printed guides, and sales letters.
In the early ’90s, I took my publishing to the internet in social posts, blogs, and then video.
As it’s called today, Content Marketing can generate income from advertisers once the digesting audience is significant in numbers.
I was always hesitant to sell ad space on my websites as I didn’t want anything taking away from my sales and services.
Over time, however, as I’ve moved into affiliate models. I have moved away from as much of my product sales and services.
I appreciate getting paid for the traffic.
With publishing, my job is to create content that generates traffic.
I can generate traffic from organic search engine rankings, social media (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, for example), Youtube, Paid ads, and so forth.
When someone watches a video or visits a blog and clicks an ad, I earn income. I make money even if the visitor doesn’t make a purchase.
With the affiliate marketing model, other than the cost per acquisition programs, I only get paid when the brand converts.
I have to first influence the click on the affiliate link and then rely on the brand’s landing page and funnels to convert.
For most brands, the conversion is LOW! And if they don’t purchase within a specific time frame, there is no commission even if they later make a purchase.
Amazon’s affiliate program, for example, only has a 24-hour cookie.
That means if someone clicks on your link and doesn’t buy the item (or put it in the cart, which extends the window to 30-days), you lose!
Furthermore, some affiliate programs have a last-click model.
If someone clicks a link from my blog, the tracking window time begins. But if in that window, that person clicks on someone else’s link and then buys the product, the last click gets the commission.
I have to be strategic with my content, ad partners, and ad placements with publishing.
Premium advertisers like Mediavine have qualifications that include many monthly website visitors and the website and niche.
Anyone can start with Google Adsense, although the earnings are incredibly small per 1000 impressions. Google Adsense is also the ad source that powers the Youtube Partner program.
Of course, you can also earn income with other publishing mediums, including TikTok, Facebook Videos, and Instagram.
Some publishers are building niche websites specifically for ad publishing income.
Keep in mind that all niches are not equal. You would want to explore profitable niches for publishers before starting a Youtube Channel or Blog.
Today, my publishing income is enough to pay for my Lexus, so I’ll take that with gratitude while I work to learn more and grow it.
4. Courses and Coaching & 5. Speaking
In 2013, when I launched my first course, I earned about $30,000 a month in profit.
I didn’t have to run ads because I already had a captive audience I was reaching through blogs, youtube, email lists, and webinars.
It faded off over the years as I launched a marketing company that began to service the industry I was building courses for.
I was promoting the marketing company over the courses.
As much as I enjoy marketing and creating a buzz, I don’t enjoy selling.
Over the years, I’ve had several successful launches, including a 6-figure Keto Coaching Program that I ran for a couple of years.
It’s nice that I could call on that again and launch it if the timing was right, and I felt the passion for doing it.
I’ve had affiliate marketing course launches, real estate masterclasses (hosting one this month), blogging, social media, and Youtube courses.
Last year, I found success with a monthly coaching program and course related to teaching specific real estate agents’ software.
$8000 – $10,000 is my monthly average for teaching. These sales include courses, live classes, and webinars, and group coaching programs.
Transformational programs can be incredibly lucrative and are easier to sell than affiliate programs, in my opinion.
And sometimes, like the first half of 2020, I don’t want to be creating a buzz for courses and programs, and it’s nice to take a break from it and focus on other streams (like publishing!)
When I tell the story of how much I make in coaching programs, people often don’t hear the part where I say that I spent years building an audience before that launch.
I tend to build the audience before the product.
How can we know what to create before we see the audience’s problems that we can help solve?
6. Marketing Company
I founded a marketing company in 2016. While it was profitable from the day I opened it (because I pre-sold services and didn’t have employees), I quickly realized it wasn’t where I wanted to spend my day.
I had been out of the “serving clients” space for way too long, I think, to re-introduce it.
I sat down with my brothers, who were operating it with me, and discussed my thoughts. They were eager to take it over, so we made a deal that allowed me to retain interest without retaining legal ownership and responsibilities.
So once again, I created another affiliate model. I generate the leads for Ballen Brands, and they take it from there. I get a commission when they convert. That’s it.
Again, my focus is on content and helping to solve problems that customers in that niche have.
4 years ago, following my divorce, I had zero investments. Today, I have investments in small businesses as well as traditional stocks/bonds. I also earn a small income from real estate profit sharing.
I’m excited to start investing in residential real estate next.
Anytime we see an income report as I share in this article, or watch a video about a successful sales funnel, or read a blog about someone who earned 5 or 6 figures in one month, we must dig deep before we compare or emulate.
The way they achieved those numbers may not be in-line with your skillset, energy, financial investment capabilities, or even your morals and ethics.
Earnings do not mean profits. Dig deep to discover expenses. Do you have $100,000 to make $150,000? Do you have the time to invest to earn the $100,000 to make the $150,000?
Shocking headlines get you to click. It’s your job, after you click, to digest the content with a curious mind. Try not to compare your numbers to theirs and always be sure to ask: What’s the Truth?
Lori Ballen is a real estate agent in Las Vegas. She’s a digital marketing specialist, speaker, and marketing coach and loves to share her “Ballen Method” to generate website traffic and leads online. Lori’s specialties are SEO content writing (ranking on the search engines), social media strategies, and affiliate marketing. Need a website? Contact Lori’s brothers Jeff and Paul Helvin at Ballen Brands.